Through Sun 10/29
October might as well be Christmas time for Midnight Syndicate visionaries Edward Douglas and Gavin Goszka. For the past two decades the creative outfit has parlayed its interest in macabre and mystery into a successful career featuring gothic music, horror cinema and live performances.
This includes the return of its critically-acclaimed concert experience “Midnight Syndicate Live!” to Cedar Point’s HalloWeekends. The horror-themed, multimedia concert blending live music, theater and film runs weekends now through Sun 10/29 in the Jack Aldrich Theater. CoolCleveland talked to Douglas about rise of Midnight Syndicate.
CoolCleveland: Nearly 20 years ago I remember seeing Midnight Syndicate’s first show.
Edward Douglas: That’s like the inception of Midnight Syndicate. That was my first stab at mixing video and live actors and lighting and live music and scoring films live on stage. So even though that wasn’t a financial success, it did set the stage for what we’re doing now.
CC: OK, what is Midnight Syndicate doing now?
ED: What we’ve been doing for 20 years is basically creating these dark orchestra music CDs that blend instrumental music and sound effects. They appeal to people who like gothic music and also run haunted houses and amusement parks. What we found early on, the first Midnight Syndicate album back in 1997 was all different kinds of styles. Some of it was creepy, some of it was not creepy. What we did was we dialed in on just creepy and we really hit a niche. There wasn’t any high-quality Halloween music back then. It was all cheesy sound effects and “Monster Mash” compilations. So we kind of just took off. And before you knew it, our music was being played around the world. We were a standard for the industry.
CC: In 2015, Midnight Syndicate was included along seminal horror music acts like Alice Cooper, Black Sabbath, Bobby “Boris” Pickett (“Monster Mash”), John Carpenter and Rob Zombie in Rue Morgue Magazine’s “50 Essential Horror Albums” that defined the genre of the decades. What did that mean to you?
ED: That was one of the coolest things for me. We were right there with those artists for our contributions to the instrumental horror music genre. We made our mark doing something a little different. Hopefully, the music will live on because of what it is.
CC: So how does Midnight Syndicate go from making music to appearing at HalloWeekends?
ED: Over these 20 years we have been able to collaborate with a lot of amazing artists. We actually shot a movie, a feature called The Dead Matter, back in 2008. It was released in 2010. That whole experience put us directly into the world of filmmaking in this region, and after that I scored a couple of films. Next, we decided to put together a live show. We ran a Kickstarter campaign in 2014, and we were going to hit our goal, but Cedar Point came in and said “Would you be interested in doing a show here at the park?” That was very exciting. So we did that. We went to Cedar Point in 2014 and did the second Midnight Syndicate show — a mixture of film, actors and live music. It was a really big success. But after that show, they tore down the theater to make room for the Valravn. So the next year there was no place for us to do our show. That was fine, we went back to making music. Then Cedar Point asked us back. It’s a different show now, obviously. Before we were in a huge hall. This is much more intimate. It’s a different experience because you’re so close to us and you’re so much part of the atmosphere because it’s a smaller venue.
CC: How scary is it?
ED: People say that it’s certainly as scary as a haunted house experience in a live theater production.
CC: Looking ahead, what’s next for Midnight Syndicate?
ED: We don’t know what’s next on the horizon for us, and that’s the thing — it’s a crazy ride and you’re just putting yourself out there and sticking with it and seeing what opportunities you can take advantage of. That’s what it’s always been about for us, creating our own opportunities or finding opportunities and taking advantage of them.